Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez Jr. eyes the ball as he is tackled by Jaylon Carlies (copy)

Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez Jr. eyes the ball as he is tackled by Jaylon Carlies on Saturday at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. Carlies has been one of the bright spots of Missouri’s spotty start to the season on defense. He’s recorded two interceptions, a forced fumble and 11 total tackles so far.

Before his first action of the season, Missouri sophomore safety Jaylon Carlies headed onto the field early to give himself extra time to warm up.

It was halftime.

Carlies wasn’t eligible to play in the first half of Missouri’s opener against Central Michigan because of a targeting penalty in the second half of the Tigers’ 2020 finale against Mississippi State. It was a frustrating way to begin the season, all the anticipation festering for 30 more minutes of game time, but Carlies did his best to stay engaged while not playing.

“I feel like just me giving them energy to give me energy going into the second half,” he said. “I just kind of fit right in with the defense.”

Three halves later, Carlies has been one of the bright spots of Missouri’s spotty start to the season on defense. He’s recorded two interceptions, a forced fumble and 11 total tackles. All three marks have eclipsed his totals from 2020, in which he played in all 10 games.

Carlies knew he would have a bigger role this year after fellow safeties Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe were both picked in the NFL Draft in March. He switched his jersey number to No. 1, Bledsoe’s old digit, and has been on the field for the majority of Missouri’s snaps since the second half against CMU.

His forced fumble against Kentucky helped turn what was quickly becoming a blowout into a competitive contest. Up 21-7, Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. barreled toward the end zone late in the second quarter looking for his third touchdown of the game. Carlies got to Rodriguez and punched the ball out just before he reached the goal line. Linebacker Chad Bailey recovered. Missouri scored on its last possession of the quarter and went into halftime down by a lone score.

“He’s really stepping into his role and he’s becoming a great player for our defense,” junior safety Martez Manuel said. “A lot of fun to play next to him, nothing but positive things to say about J.C.”

Manuel has seen most of the action at the other safety spot. Jalani Williams played the first half of the season opener in Carlies’ place and has seen sporadic action since.

Converted quarterback Shawn Robinson has also played, both at safety and occasionally slot cornerback.

“(Robinson is) big enough to be able to fit in the core and stop the run,” defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said. “He’s fast enough to be able to play out in space. He’s played safety and he has coverage skills, so he gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Boston College quarterback Jurkovec could miss season

Two weeks before its game against Missouri, Boston College announced quarterback Phil Jurkovec could miss the rest of the season with a hand injury. Jurkovec hurt his throwing hand Saturday in the Eagles’ victory over UMass and had surgery Monday. When Missouri travels to Chestnut Hill, it will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

  • Sports reporter, fall 2020. Studying print and digital sports journalism. Reach me at wdm79h@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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